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February 02, 2016

Squilla kills controversial bill to register Philly performers

Councilman withdraws legislation after outcry from music scene

Entertainment Music
TLA G. Miller/Visit Philadelphia™

The Theatre of the Living Arts (or TLA as most Philadelphians know it), located in the heart of South Street, has become one of Philadelphia’s premier small-concert venues, welcoming both established and up-and-coming artists almost every night of the week.

Councilman Mark Squilla has nixed proposed legislation that caused an uproar from the local arts scene after meeting with members of the Philadelphia music industry.

Squilla announced his decision Monday evening, saying he has withdrawn his bill that would have amended the Special Assembly Occupancy Licenses (SAOL) in an attempt to close a loophole concerning venues playing music without said licensees.

Many from the Philly music scene caused an uproar on social media because of part of the bill that would have required restaurants, bars and nightclubs to collect the contact information of all the bands, rappers, DJs and other performers that play in their space.

Additionally, the venues would have had to hand over that information to police if asked, giving law enforcement an unfair amount of authority in deciding what artists get to play and where, critics said.

In withdrawing the bill Monday, Squilla stressed that he wished to work with the music community to create new legislation in an effort to address his original intent.

That intent, according to Squilla, was to prevent venues from getting around the requirement to obtain SAOLs by simply streaming or playing music from an iPod or other devices instead of having live music or a DJ.